A caller was forwarded to me back in the corporate days who had been passed among various people over a period of time. Based on the information in his phone messages, he appeared to be interested in selling in a program that wasn’t a corporate priority then.

Having been asked to follow up with him, I called his cell phone and we talked for quite some time about what he was trying to accomplish. I let him know that for a variety of reasons, his program wasn’t going to be able to prioritized high enough to invest time in it currently.

Near the end of the call, he informed me that he was both a customer and a shareholder in the company. It probably shouldn’t have, but it was a surprise to me. I’d incorrectly classified him in my own mind as a “vendor” based on the information provided before calling him. My rush to judgment (which I suspect was shared by those who had been shuffling his calls around) caused me to not even consider that he might be in multiple important audiences for the company.

The lesson is to never presuppose who’s on the other end of the phone; they may be tremendously important to your business in ways that you have never imagined. For my part, I’ll make a concerted effort to get better about reconnecting with people that I might not have worked as diligently to reach before. Maybe we can all do better at it.  – Mike Brown

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